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First drive: BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW 225xe Active Tourer
BMW marries hybrid and 4WD in new 225xe Active Tourer.

 



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BMW 225xe Active Tourer

4 4 4 4 4

BMW's expansion of its non-i hybrid portfolio continues, as hot on the heels of the 330e is the 225xe Active Tourer. Yes, that means it's a petrol-electric version of Munich's unusual mini-MPV, but a tour on mixed roads near the company's Bavarian headquarters revealed a few surprises in the 2 Series' armoury...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 225xe Active Tourer
Pricing: 2 Series Active Tourer from 23,310; 225xe from 35,155 (see copy)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with synchronous electric motor
Transmission: six-speed automatic (petrol), reduction gear (electric), all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat MPV
CO2 emissions: 46g/km (VED Band A, 0)
Combined economy: 141.2mpg; 11.8kWh/62.5 miles battery
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Power: petrol 136hp at 4,400rpm; electric 88hp at 4,000rpm; combined peak output 224hp
Torque: petrol 220Nm at 1,250- to 4,300rpm; electric 165Nm at 0- to 3,000rpm; combined peak output 385Nm

What's this?

A BMW 2 Series Active Tourer that has been given the drivetrain of the i8 sports car. Sort of. But turned through 180 degrees. So, for the 225xe you get all three modes of traction in one: in Auto eDrive, the car's software chooses from and mixes up the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol's 136hp and the rear-mounted electric motor's 88hp, giving you all-wheel drive; switch to Save, and only the engine and the front axle are used, while the on-board lithium-ion battery pack is replenished by both the combustion engine and the regenerative brakes; and finally, in Max eDrive, providing you have charge, then the 2 Series becomes rear-wheel drive and fully electric with zero emissions.

This clever system, all packaged up in the practical if rather cumbersome Active Tourer body, makes this an ideal car for daily commuters with young families who live in cities where there are extremes of weather. Which might sound like a narrow window of opportunity, but actually there's a bigger market for such a 2 AT than you might expect. BMW reckons that after the US and Japan, the UK, Holland and Germany will lap this thing up.

Prices are extremely competitive for the PHEV. It starts at 35,155, so with the 5,000 Government grant that brings it down to a little more than 30,000; cheaper than the 225i xDrive's 32,010. However, from March 1 the rules change and the 225xe will be a Category 2 Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), meaning the grant reduces to 2,500, making the 2 AT PHEV at least 32,655. Pricey, perhaps, but for that, you'll get a part-electric, all-wheel drive, premium, five-seat MPV, which puts it in a class of... one, for the time being. And, visually, it looks like any 2 Series Active Tourer, save for the external '225xe' and 'eDrive' badging, the 'extra filler' charging port flap on the front nearside wing and an interior that features a lot of blue lighting and stitching, a few extra hybrid-related screens in its digital displays and an eDrive button on the centre console. Pretty, the 225xe ain't, but with regards to its primary purpose of shuttling people about, it is at least functional.

How does it drive?

On the face of it, marvellously well. It's another blinding integration of electrification by BMW, as the 225xe feels superb on first acquaintance. The petrol-electric drivetrain is great at nipping what is a fairly hefty machine (1,660kg) through town and once the roads open out, the Two's full punch is pretty impressive. The steering's great, the six-speed Steptronic auto is an utter gem, the brakes are... well, they're good, although the task of harvesting energy for the battery under deceleration always makes them feel just a little odd underfoot, but generally it proves to be a likeable, premium motor to cruise about in. The three-cylinder engine also makes a great noise under hard acceleration, which is a boon.

The problem - or maybe the 2 AT's USP, it depends on your outlook - comes when you consider the ride and the road-holding. The former is a bit firm and grainy compared to most other MPVs, while the latter is far, far in excess of any other two-box van with windows we've yet driven. In an act of seemingly wilful contrariness, BMW has made the 2 Series Active Tourer - perhaps the most ostensibly sensible car in its line-up - dynamically more like its traditional offerings. Thus, it will cheekily tuck its nose in with a lift of the throttle, which we can see being of great benefit to harassed school-run mums with a full complement of four snotty sprogs on board: "Hold on, children, mummy's just going to tighten her line through this roundabout, so she can get you all to class on time." Cue a quartet of tiny swedes bobbling about within, as a hard-pushed 2 Series AT takes up a neutral-to-oversteer stance on the A412/A41 interchange at 8.15am.

All joking aside, while our perverse nature revels in this sort of delightful wrong-headedness, we can't help wishing the 225xe traded its ride-handling balance for the ever-so-slightly soft set-up BMW has foisted on the 330e, which we drove on the same event. We'd prefer a sharper chassis and less supple ride on the 3 Series, with precisely the opposite for the 225xe, but BMW seems to have done things the unnecessary way round. It's encouraging in one respect, as it shows the driver-focused ethos survives deep within the halls of the Vierzylinder building, yet we can't help feeling that - at the moment - the dynamic goodness BMW deems fit to apportion out is somewhat misplaced within its fleet.

Oh, and the eco-data? Not up to the on-paper numbers, sadly, but a still respectable 54.3mpg over 50 miles at an average speed of 28.9mph, with battery usage of 7.1kWh/62.5 miles during the same period. That's easily up with the numbers any diesel 2 AT would return in actuality and if it helps, for the first 12.5 miles of the route in congested Munich traffic the 225xe stuck resolutely to its battery pack as much as possible. During this time, it only used 50 per cent of its charge and was averaging a scarcely credible 941.6mpg (yes, you read that right), so if you live in the suburbs of a major city and have plenty of access to charging ports, this is the no-brainer choice of the Active Tourer line-up.

Verdict

With a 26-mile fully electric range and a limited top speed of 78mph (slightly higher than other BMW PHEVs), the 225xe makes perfect sense as a city car. That it then drives so sharply out on the open road is either going to be a blessing or a curse, depending on your outlook. We're fans of this hybrid 2 Series, though, and while the ride is a little firm and the looks more than a trifle gawky, the clever, multi-talented 225xe proves to be a deeply impressive new PHEV from a company that is fast becoming known for such things, over and above its historical strong suit of sporty, petrol-driven saloons.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 28 Jan 2016









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2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.



2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 

2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer. Image by BMW.
 






 

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